As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3) #BookReview

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Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip.

Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . .

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

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As Good As Dead is the third novel of a trilogy, with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (my review) and Good Girl, Bad Blood (my review) preceding this one. I read the first two novels so of course I had to find out how everything was going to end for Pip Fitz-Amobi. I wouldn’t recommend reading this last novel as a standalone because there were a lot of references to both of the previous novels. That being said, I read the first one quite some time ago and it was not so easy to remember everything that had happened to all the characters of the town for me either so I struggled a little understanding why Pip was feeling so much animosity towards some of them.

I enjoyed the majority of the story of As Good As Dead, but it wasn’t love from the first page so it really me had to win me over. First, the second novel did end quite traumatically for Pip but I wasn’t a fan of Pip’s paranoid thoughts (PTSD if you want) and the manifestation of that fact with Pip imagining seeing blood on her hands quite a few times. It’s perhaps possible but I’m still not a fan. Secondly, the novel started slow although there’s an indisputable threat directed at Pip that is designed to keep the reader guessing early on and tension was building with each new message she discovers closer and closer to home. I enjoyed the clever way someone is trying to frighten her and yet I still felt that the plot took its time getting the story to where it should be, especially because there’s a major shifting of gears with one pivotal scene kicking the novel up a notch or ten and then never letting go again.

This pivotal scene and everything that happened after shows a Pip at the top of her game. I loved everything that came after that. I hadn’t seen her like this before, so brilliant, so controlling, so impressive. Her skills and all the knowledge she has acquired while working on her podcasts, she has to put them all into practice. I learned a few new things about death bodies too as she includes a report on how pathologists use rigor mortis, livor mortis and algor mortis to determine the time of someone’s death. I found all of this very interesting and I’m sure I won’t forget about it soon.

The second half of the novel was very addictive and I had to know if Pip was going to succeed. Sidekick Ravi was absent from the second novel but is back in As Good As Dead to take his place next to Pip and their connection, the support he gives her is wonderful. They are the bestest team!

The author promised a thrilling novel and she kept her promise, I loved the direction she took with this novel. I wasn’t expecting Pip to surprise me so much after her ‘weak’ start but she’s really coming through and this third novel is a wonderful conclusion to the series. It certainly ends on a high for me! And that last line.. I was sooo happy with it!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole #BookReview

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When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?

Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

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I bought A Thousand Boy Kisses – a young adult romance novel – years ago when I saw how many 5 star ratings it was receiving on Goodreads. The novel’s been published in 2016 but still has an average rating of 4.23 so that says a lot about how much love this novel is receiving.

I’m a fan of young romance because it’s sweet, innocent and perfect and I thought I’d never be able to get enough of it but the romance in the first part of the novel was sooo cheesy, I was really getting an overdose. It didn’t help that Poppy receives a jar from her grandmother to collect a thousand kisses in her entire life that make her heart burst, kisses that make her feel special, and Rune takes it upon himself to fill this whole jar by himself. I never thought I’d say this but the soaring hearts were there all the time and even I felt it was a bit too much. That said, it didn’t make me feel very happy that Rune and his Poppymin (My Poppy in Norvegian) were going to be separated because by then I certainly saw them as inseparable.

Their goodbyes were painful but what was at least as painful was the fact that all communications between them come to a stop, although they promised each other so much. I didn’t know the reasons behind Poppy’s decision to cut Rune out of her life but it was hard to understand when she loved him so much before.

Rune, the long haired Viking with blond hair and blue eyes that Poppy had fallen in love with returns but nothing is as it once was. Rune has changed so much from the sweet boy I came to know. They can’t pick up where they left off, and all I wanted was for them to reconnect in some way. My heart broke for them – for the love lost between them – but soon after it broke even a little more. I thought this was going to be a light, sweet teen romance but the emotions I felt ran deeper than expected. In the end I believed very strongly that Rune and Poppy were soul mates, and their love ‘as special as special can be’. I dare you to keep it dry reading A Thousand Boy Kisses.

The start was a little rocky but the ending was so beautiful and also full of love. It is definitely an emotional novel and it won’t leave you unfazed!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas #BookReview

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There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I was in the mood to read a Young Adult book and I bought this novel ages ago when it was in sales. I picked it up thinking it would be quite similar to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder with another teen sleuth at the center of a murder mystery. It definitely had the same easy style of writing and they are both visually attractive, but there are multiple plotlines in this novel and the investigation of what happened in the past is also quite different between both novels.

The master sleuth of service in The Cheerleaders is Monica. She’s on the dance team at school while she might have been on the cheerleading team like her big sister Jennifer if the team hadn’t been disbanded after 5 girls of the team died. I’m not sure it matters (it doesn’t) but in all honesty, cheerleading team (from what I gained from flashbacks) and dance team (from the routines Monica shares) did feel quite similar to me.

Monica is still trying to make sense of her sister’s death. First two friends of her sister died in a car accident, then two were murdered for an unknown reason by their neighbour, and then Jennifer killed herself, no note, no nothing. It’s been 5 years but Monica still has trouble coping. She has always been convinced 5 deaths in a matter of only a few months were just too much of a coincidence. When she stumbles by accident upon some anonymous letters accusing her stepfather of not having done his job properly, and her sister’s old cell phone, she uses this device to do some digging and retrace her sister’s life in the last days. I did find it a little bit of a plothole to strike up a conversation with someone anonymous via a telephone number and doing everything possible to find out this person’s identity through every means possible other than simply calling the number with any sort of random excuse. It’s the first thing I would do or at least think about but then I guess it wouldn’t be so much fun if she had taken this shortcut. It would also mean she’d have a name but possibly not know the connection to her sister so it did maybe work out better in the end anyway. It also meant that Monica needed some extra help and she finds an ally in Ginny, another girl on the dance team who she didn’t really have much contact with before they teamed up, and I’d even say I warmed to Ginny possibly even more than to Monica.

I loved that there was so much going on, Monica has her own problems in the present and then there are various strings in the past too but it eventually remains quite focused on the murders of Susan and Juliana. I got a sense of what was going on via Jennifer’s POV but Monica was also doing her best to shed some extra light onto the friendship between the cheerleaders.

The last few chapters were packed with revelations, I did not guess the conclusion of any of the clever mysteries. There was however an imbalance as the revelation of one mystery fell a little flat for me. It was sort of shoved between the others, thus much shorter and rather matter of fact, the other two felt much more shocking and I wish it had felt the same way.

All in all I did enjoy The Cheerleaders, it had decent plotting, wasn’t shy of adding some heavier themes into the story, and I definitely want to try another of Kara Thomas’s novels the future.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Layla by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

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star three and a half

It’s been a while since I read a novel by one of my favorite romance authors. Even though I’m a big fan I don’t want to binge-read her novels. Her books need to be savored like a fine wine, I enjoy drinking in her words but want to pace myself and not just have too much at once. This novel is causing some division in my head though and it’s the first novel I read that is a difficult one to form an opinion of. I confess I had not read any reviews beforehand because I know this author and I loved every single book she has written but I was unprepared for the genre of novel this was. It seems she’s venturing further from the type of novels she wrote in the past, first dabbling into a different genre with Verity (a thriller, which I really liked because it also had a cool twist) and now this one.

Layla had an important and big plot twist which involves one of those tropes I really don’t like reading about so I felt a little deflated when I first found out. Had I known this then I don’t know if I had picked it up yet and would have chosen to read another one of hers first. Maybe it is a good thing though that I didn’t know because I did come around in the end so the final verdict is that I did enjoy it and chances are you’ll probably like it even more than me.

Without going into the plot, I can say that I felt conflicted at first that Leeds spent so much time with Willow, it somehow felt quite disloyal that he started to have these sort of secret conversations and encounters and as the story progressed that feeling only grew stronger. I was happy when he finally started to think about what he was doing because I reached that point much earlier so I didn’t really like Leeds and the fact that there are chapters where he has Layla TIED UP IN HER ROOM was even more reason for me to totally dislike him. I totally changed my mind in the end though and I totally understood his actions then so I did love that the author managed to change my feelings towards Willow, Layla and Leeds completely.

Apart from the trope that demanded some suspension of my belief, it is also not my favorite novel by the author because I couldn’t feel as deeply and as emotionally as I would have if it were a straightforward love story. One where I didn’t block the feeling of wanting a romance to blossom between two people who aren’t in a relationship as much as I did here from the start. The focus of my feelings was more on disliking certain characters instead of focusing on the love aspect. It’s all a bit unrealistic for me but she did manage to write something that will surprise the reader as it is something fresh and original.

I do have Heart Bones, another novel of hers waiting on my tbr pile so hopefully that will really give me what I want to satisfy my romantic side.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (book #2 of 3) #BookReview

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Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore.
With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.
But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening.
But will she find him before it’s too late?

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Good Girl, Bad Blood was a highly anticipated novel to read and I bought it as soon as I finished the first novel of the trilogy, one I absolutely loved and which even made an appearance on my end of year list. Good Girl, Bad Blood is a great sequel to the this young adult mystery murder novel titled A Good Girls Guide to Murder which I reviewed in July last year, but of course the format (with transcripts, a map, in essence lots of visual embellishments) in which Jackson’s debut novel was written, was expected now so the surprising effect wasn’t really there this time. Not that I didn’t appreciate that she used the same techniques though, I love how attractive she made it look again!

In the previous novel Pip was looking for a murderer, believing the police came to the wrong conclusion, but this time she’s looking for a missing person, which meant her investigation is more about finding clues instead of suspects. She does go around interrogating several people again but I didn’t happen to feel the same thrill of sleuthing that I had in the first novel where I was more actively thinking along who the villain could be.

The author raised the bar so high with her first novel and while I heard some readers say this one’s even better, I’m not sure I feel the same way. Don’t get me wrong, Good Girl, Bad Blood is a ‘bloody good novel’ but the best one so far is undoubtedly still the first one for me (I have to admit, I often feel that way). There really is no shame holding this second place though because I still very much enjoyed seeing Pip in her element again, making lots of progress throughout the novel at a steady pace (she’s really a young Veronica Mars and she does it so well) and I can only think of two small things that I would have liked to have seen differently. The first is the fact that Ravi, Pip’s wingman in novel one is taking quite a backseat in this one, and I missed this voice of reason sometimes, not to mention his positive and warm personality, and the other thing is that this novel recaps literally everything that happened in the first novel, it goes on for several pages and while I enjoyed that it jogged my memory this way, I don’t think that readers who haven’t read the first novel will appreciate this because there is no point reading the first of the series after you read this one, so do take that into account if you’re interested in reading it.

Anyway to say I’m very excited to read book 3 of the series As Good As Dead is an understatement (I’ll have to wait till August/September at least though) because in this third story Pip has a stalker and there’s a man behind bars who is probably the wrong person and a real serial killer who’s running free. I’m trying to keep my expectations in check this time but it’s really hard with this series! So, if you’re used to reading detective stories but new to young adult, this is absolutely a great series to start with!

I bought a paperback copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.

🎹 A Thousand Perfect Notes 🎹 by C.G. Drew #BookReview

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Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

Thrilling and powerfully written, this is an explosive debut for YA readers which tackles the dark topic of domestic abuse in an ultimately hopeful tale.

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Hands down… five stars! Six if I could even.. Once in a blue moon there’s this one outstanding book, this one book that reminds you what a five star rating is for. A Thousand Perfect Notes is that one book. It feels like forever that I read something so intense and became so emotional. If you’re into the works of Colleen Hoover, you simply have to read this novel. It could even be a CoHo novel but no I checked, it really is an original C.G. Drews novel. I knew C.G. Drews before she became an author and was a bookblogger so I damn well knew she could write but I’m still really blown away with what she wrote here. Girl, I had no idea you would be this amazing!

A Thousand Perfect Notes had my heart in its grip from the start. It is normal that parents wish for their kids to do well in life but some parents can’t handle their own failures, and some parents want their kids to continue what they started and do as well or no, do even better. Beck’s mother was a famous pianist – until she couldn’t play anymore – and she wants Beck to step into her footsteps, to live up to the Kervinich name and be the best pianist. She doesn’t use positive motivation to achieve this but takes her frustrations out on him. She prefers to throw insults at him in German, but generally just lashes out in any way she sees fit to get what she wants. It was at times hard to read, especially because Beck and his sister Joey were at the mercy of their mother without anyone watching out for them. I don’t know if this is really realistic – in the novel Joey’s preschool teachers never ask any questions about their home situation but it was so obvious in my mind and I didn’t find it normal that they discuss Joey’s problems with a 15 year-old – I can only hope that in real life children in the same position are noticed and they are taken care of.

Beck is a wonderful and kind character, taking everything on the chin that is thrown at him. He is fiercely protective of his 5 year old baby sister Joey but his world only consists of music, from the minute he wakes to the moment he goes to sleep. My heart went out to him and my eyes welled up several times because of the beautiful lines and the heartfelt thoughts. Not only for Beck but also for August, the girl he needs to write an essay with. August is earth and summer, she is smiles and rainbows. August is noticing Beck, she wants to be his friend, even if he doesn’t want to and tries his best to keep her at a distance. Can he let anyone in? What will his future hold and can he put a stop to his situation? There are more twists here than in the thriller I’m currently listening to!

Have you read the blurb? Then you get an idea what you’re signing up for. Yes this novel is hard and tough and heartbreaking but god, I want to reread it already. So please don’t be scared to read it, it’s so worth it! I probably don’t even need to tell you that there’s a good chance you’ll see this on on my end of year list, maybe the only real news is that I already bought C.G. Drews second novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel and this is my honest opinion.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus #BookReview @PRHGlobal #partner

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The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:

You know what you did.

They never hear from her again.

Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.

This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.

This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.

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Was this a brilliant read? A hundred times yes! The Cousins held so many unexpected twists and turns in its pages, I was completely hooked! I loved the author’s debut novel One of Us Is Lying, and I enjoyed the second one, Two Can Keep a Secret but it wasn’t as surprising as her debut so I guess that’s all I have as a poor excuse for not having read her third novel. However, I had a new chance to read a (free) copy of book nr. 4 The Cousins and the blurb really sold it to me. We all know I’m a sucker for secrets so yes of course I grabbed the chance with both hands to read it and she’s completely won me over again!

The Cousins is about Mildred’s four children (Adam, Anders, Allison and Archer) and her three Story grandchildren (Aubrey, Jonah, Milly) and while I was a little worried about so many characters (there was a family tree drawn up in the prologue which seemed a lot to have to remember), it was not even once confusing to keep them apart. McManus didn’t just drop all the characters at once but introduced the first person (Milly), then her mother (Allison), then in the next chapter Aubrey, and soon enough I had a good idea how they were all tied together. I liked all three grandchildren so it’s difficult to pick a favorite but I’d say I loved Milly most because Milly is the fiercest and she’s the most eagle-eyed of all three which is exactly who you need in a story like this. Aubrey is definitely the character who develops the most throughout the story though, going from a sweet girl who would never dream of standing up to one of her parents to someone who dares to say what she feels, a complete turn around from when she was introduced. It didn’t feel convuled at all but rather a natural development and I couldn’t be happier that she turned out to be the Story grandchild who plays a big part in the end when it gets really dangerous (that’s right dangerous!), and that it wasn’t Milly who would be the more evident choice.

The plotline is the work of a very skilled author and was full of surprises released with perfect timing and pacing. The whole Story history was quite cleverly constructed and I didn’t want to put it down before I knew what would happen next. My only small niggle was that I couldn’t quite understand why nobody tried to reach out and contact their mother more in the past. Were they really all culpable of whatever they were supposed to have done? Now of course there was this big question about the reason for their (grand)mother severing all ties which was in the back of my mind at all times, but I was not focused on it and I was really just as invested in what went on beside of that, getting to know the cousins more and what happened there between them and their estranged grandmother who isn’t so keen to get to know them really, even if she invited them herself. Time to make amends? Perhaps or perhaps not 😊.

Overall, an addictive and gripping novel that I can highly recommend and makes me not want to miss her next novel anymore!

I received a free ecopy of this novel via Netgalley from PRHGlobal/prhinternational for review, thank you! This is still my honest opinion.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson #BookReview

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The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?

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I have already bought Holly Jackson’s next novel, Good Girl Bad Blood so yes I absolutely bloody loved this YA mystery. It’s been so long since I read something YA that was so highly entertaining and well plotted.

Under the pretext of writing her EPC school project about the role of the media when  high school student Andie Bell disappeared 5 years before, Pippa goes on a quest to discover what happened to her. Andie’s body was never found and Pippa has her doubts about the alleged killer since the very beginning so this is her chance to dig in and she’s quite brilliant at this digging in. Pippa is your next Veronica Mars and there’s no trouble big enough for her so she goes to investigate, interview, befriend strangers or occasionally even trespass a friend’s house.

What I absolutely loved the most about this novel was the long list of suspects that Pippa compiles while working this case. It seems Andie wasn’t the perfect sweet girl that the media made of her after all. There were plenty of twists and turns and while Pippa started out with one suspect, the clues she follows make her add loads of suspects to the list. She didn’t make it easy on me as the list grows and grows.

Holly Jackson surprised me with her debut novel. She made the story really engaging as well by including sms conversations, police reports, productions logs where she includes the transcripts of interviews and most importantly shares her thoughts and conclusions of what she has discovered so far. As a reader you’re totally on the same page as Pippa that way and it’s pretty addictive to keep on reading so you can discover even more.

There’s much to like about this book. The protagonist is young but clever, she’s not your usual detective or journalist so people don’t see her as threat and she’s not running into dead ends right away, it’s silly how they underestimate her. It makes this novel a fast and easy read. She also gets help from Ravi, Sal’s brother who also believes in his innocence and although Pippa does most of the legwork and everything, his contributions were just what the story needed. I also thought I felt a spark of interest between them early on in the story and while it never takes the upperhand, I was actually hoping for them to give in as it would make me quite happy.

Overall an entirely compelling novel with a great ending too. I can’t wait to read her next book and I can only hope it’ll be just as great as this one.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

A Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland #BookReview

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Esther Solar’s family is . . . unusual. Her father hasn’t left the basement in six years. Her brother is terrified of darkness.

Esther isn’t afraid of anything – because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors.

But when Esther is pickpocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends. Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world’s fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptilehouses – they plan to do it all.

Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other. But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.

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P.19 (a description of the three friends Hephzibah, Eugene and Esther): “A ghost who couldn’t speak, a boy who hated the dark and a girl who dressed as someone else everywhere she went.”

Who the hell tapes all the light switches and lamps in a house in the on-position, or dresses like she’s on her way to a costume party every single day? What did I start reading? Quirky novels and me, we don’t always (usually) gel well and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be such a novel but the characters were too endearing from the start to let them go and so this novel is the exception on the rule. There’s also just something about knowing someone’s vulnerability, being allowed to read about their fears, it’s just impossible not to feel for them.

Even when it’s all part of a made-up world – too unreal because there’s just too many fears and quirkiness to truly believe it – I’m sure there are people who are afraid of the dark and who see black cats as an omen. The author magnified this only a thousand times. At first sight it only seems like a crazy, bizarre and funny read with Esther tackling her bucket list of fears, but it’s definitely not all it is.

There’s also a little bit of magical realism in the story that was pulled off really well and it kept me wondering throughout the novel if Death really was a person or not. Esther thinks to know for sure as she sees how The Curse spoken to her grandfather by Death himself during the war holds her entire family in a grip. He told them they would all die from their biggest fear or phobia and so far it all came true. She doesn’t want to become like them though, so she’s trying to lure Death to her by confronting her fears instead of avoiding them like she’s done for so many years. I loved following her challenges, they start easy and are funny enough but become more serious further down the list. There are even a few I’d pass up on myself.

It doesn’t take long though to understand there are many layers beneath the bizarre spectacle, some obvious and others harder to see through. The novel has some deep messages about mental health issues, depression, loss, but also personal growth, being yourself and seeking help when you need it. The funny quirky characters help to keep it light enough so it has exactly the right amount of balance. And Jonah was the perfect person to bring out the best in Esther, he’s so creative and attentive and I wish and hope we can all have a Jonah in our lives.

Overall a very enjoyable debut novel that makes me wonder what else she has in store. I can recommend this novel to bookworms who read or are interested in reading Turtles All The Way Down.

I received a free copy from this novel through a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

The Furies by Katie Lowe #BookReview

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In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.

After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.

While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

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If I don’t hit it off with a novel right away – if I’m not feeling ‘it’ – it’ll be difficult to turn that feeling around and, unfortunately, that’s what happened when I started reading The Furies. The fact is that for some reason I didn’t take in some of the narrative in certain paragraphs and I had to go back and reread parts of the story. I believe the reason for this could be because of the lyrical and descriptive writing style and the plot didn’t really capture my attention after the – I must admit – wonderful first chapter.

I loved the rich history of the school and how the author broached the Greek mythology in the story but the characters fell flat for me and weren’t all that interesting. The plotline involves four girls (Violet, Robin, Alex and Grace) but in reality there are only two stealing the show which are Robin and ‘Vivi’. These girls have quite a toxic relationship where one is being manipulated by the other and I should maybe have felt for Violet but she didn’t really say or do anything to make me care for her very much.

There was even one disturbing scene where she was involved (I might say it merits a trigger warning) and it didn’t sit well with me at all, not her behaviour at the time but I was appalled by her reaction afterwards as well. Let’s just say that her way to deal with a situation was taking revenge with some witchcraft where she should have acted rationally. I do love young adult and have enjoyed many novels in this genre before but I feel this one must be for younger readers. I know I was looking too hard into their actions and struggling with the decision-making in the novel so much I wasn’t able to really enjoy it like I should have. The Furies contains storylines of peer pressure, revenge and assault so it does touch on some interesting and not so easy topics but the girls are naïve and the surface was only scratched for me, I was not able to feel the emotions that such tough subjects could provoke.

The Furies reminded me of tv shows as Pretty Little Liars and The Craft, and it does show some similarities so if you really enjoy voodoo-doll and animal sacrifice rituals then you’ll find the storyline to your liking. I think this might work better for me as a tv show.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.